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Is it a fire escape or is it a balcony in New Jersey

Discussion in 'Residential Fire Codes' started by Shadly, May 21, 2018.

  1. Shadly

    Shadly Registered User

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    I live in my second floor condo in a garden apartment complex (8 units/one building) in New Jersey. My unit has a cast iron structure attached to it, that is accessible from a full size sliding patio door. It as a solid bottom and a decorative railing and a decorative outdoor light next to it. I have for the past 9 years had a few chairs on it and some plants, etc. as did the previous owner, and likely the owner before that. I know this because the woman who is the homeowner association has lived there since the 60s when she was a child, and people have always used this structure in the same way. Needless to say, I believed I owned a balcony, but, yesterday, the fire safety inspector payed me a visit and said I couldn't keep my belongings on it because it was a fire escape.

    I am confused as I have never seen a fire escape with a sliding door before. Yes, there is a ladder next to it, which serves as my second egress. The ladder is attached directly next to the building. It is not attached to the balcony. If the condo association agreed to move the ladder over 2 inches, it would be closer to a window than the balcony.

    Couple questions about this:
    1. Is this a balcony or a fire escape, and what determines this?
    2. If I scooch the ladder over to the window, does that now make the window my fire escape, and not the balcony?
    3. Is there even a requirement for a second egress when the building is only two stories high? (The garden complex next to ours has double the units, is also 2 stories, was constructed around the same time, and doesn't have any balconies/fire escapes/ladders).
     
  2. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Welcome
     
  3. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Is it directly off your bedroom?
     
  4. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Yes, there is a ladder next to it, which serves as my second egress. The ladder is attached directly next to the building.


    How would you get on the ladder?
     
  5. Shadly

    Shadly Registered User

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    The ladder is not located in a bedroom. It is accessible from the balcony. The home owner association describes it as a fire escape (ladder) which is accessible from a balcony (cast iron platform attached to the building accessible from a sliding door with a nice decorative light and banister, which everyone uses to sit on and grow plants when the weather is nice :) ).

    I get it if its the case that, because the ladder is accessible from the balcony, I can't have anything blocking the path to the ladder. But, if they move the ladder to a window, is it still up to code? Also, if the building is only two stories, do I need a second egress?

    I noticed a couple things about another unit in my complex. It is on the second floor of the other building, but it doesn't have a balcony or a separate ladder. The ladder from the unit above it does run past one of the lower unit's windows, which I believe is acting as the lower unit's second egress. That, to me, means that a ladder next to a window (without a platform) is an acceptable means of egress. I think the way to fix this is to just move the ladder from my balcony to one of my windows. Does anyone agree?
     
  6. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    You say it is an older building?

    Fire sprinklers in it?

    Has it always been residential ?
     
  7. Shadly

    Shadly Registered User

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    No Fire sprinklers. They are individual units with individual entrances. No common areas. The state fire inspector has been there and fined the complex because the balconies weren't painted. They never mentioned the stuff on said balconies. The town inspector is the one complaining.
     
  8. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    As a starting pony you need to check code for year building was built.
     
  9. JBI

    JBI Sawhorse

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    Is the balcony accessed from a sleeping room?
    Generally only 'sleeping rooms' require Emergency Escape and Rescue openings
    Is the adjacent window in the same sleeping room?
    You only need one EERO per sleeping room
    How large is the floor of the balcony?
    Can the furnishings, etc. be arranged to allow a path as wide as the open door to the ladder?
    What code section does the local inspector say you are in violation of?
    If he can't cite a code section he's making it up.
     

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